Abah VIII: The Caregiver 1/5
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 98
Category:Story, Angst, MSR, Mag/Sk Romance
Summary:Mulder discovers heroes can fall down too. But it takes another
Disclaimer:These characters belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Introduction: Yep, for some reason I feel there's still some life left in
the ol' boy yet, so the saga continues. I hope you'll agree, (and I'm
sure you'll let me know if you don't! Just do it gently, 'kay?)
This continues after the events of Abah VII: The Visit. There is
continuity from that story to this one, so I do recommend you read Abah I
-VII first, because I really think as "informative" as this story is,
there may be some black holes that can be filled in by the previous
stories in the series. Besides, this is my totally gratuitous means of
groveling and begging for feedback on any and all of my stories.
Let's hear it for the CyberEditor and CyberCheerleader! Even while she's
having agita over her hard drive, she still finds time to edit and
encourage! Thank you Vickie Moseley! As always!
Thanks in advance for all of your kind words, past and future.
Please send e-mail comments to: STPteach@aol.com.
Abah VIII: The Caregiver
The Mulder's Apartment
"Mulder, have you seen my keys?" she called out. "Mulder?" Dana walked
quickly around the kitchen frantically looking for her car keys. "Damn
it! Where did I put them?" she said aloud.
She looked over to the couch and saw her husband was very absorbed as he
read the newspaper in one hand and held his cup of coffee in the other.
"Mulder?" she called out. "MULDER!" she shouted.
Mulder jumped and promptly spilled hot coffee all over the front of his
sweats. "Shit!" he cursed as he stood up quickly to try and cool the hot
spots on his thighs and groin. When he looked up he saw a very annoyed
expression on his wife's face.
"Wha'?" he asked, feeling totally guilty but not having a clue as to why.
"Is somethin' wron'?" Mulder asked tentatively.
"Why aren't you wearing your aids?" she asked while pointing to her own
"Oh." Mulder knew she was referring to his hearing aids. "Sorry. I ha'
to change the batteries, bu' I forgo' to buy a new supply. I've go' to go
to the store."
"Mulder, how could you allow yourself to run out of batteries? That is so
irresponsible. God, Mulder! Oh damn it, I'm late. Have you seen my
keys?" she asked in frustration.
"On the table by the door," he was able to answer now that he concentrated
and paid close attention to Dana's lips. "An' I'm sorry. I'll pick up
new batteries today," he responded contritely.
"Yeah, well, please do," she responded tersely, not quite ready to give up
her annoyed disposition. "What's on your agenda for today?" she asked.
When Mulder looked at her uncertainly, she repeated her question a little
more loudly and clarified it for him.
"What are you doing today? Do you have to go to the Bureau?"
"Oh. Well yes, and no. I'm going to Quantico. One of the ISU agents is
pickin' me up aroun' ten o'clock. There's a case Jackson wan's me to
ta'e a loo' at," he responded.
Dana nodded, but then said, "You'd better ask the agent to stop at the
store so you can pick up the batteries for your aids, Mulder. _I_ can
hardly understand you today."
Dana Scully looked at her husband and wondered what the hell was going on.
He'd never allowed himself to run out of batteries for his hearing aids
before. Ever since he'd lost his hearing from the bout of meningitis,
those aids have been a lifeline to the world.
"Mulder, everything okay?" she asked seriously.
"Yes. Everythin's fine," he said too quickly.
"Mulder? What's going on?" she asked.
Mulder looked at his wife and realized he was snagged. The woman just
knew him too well, but he really wasn't in the mood to discuss it. Not
yet anyway. Besides, he felt stupid enough as it was, and didn't feel
like having her confirm his stupidity.
"Scully, aren' you goin' to be la'e?" he asked deceptively.
"Oh shit! Mulder, I've got the autopsy bay reserved for eight o'clock and
then a lecture at nine forty-five. I've got to go, but this discussion is
not over, Mulder. You and I will discuss this tonight. Understand,
G-Man?" Scully asked firmly.
"Yes, Mom," he said with a smile.
Scully's face softened at that, and said with a smile, "Hey, I've to
practice, you know?"
Mulder chuckled and said, "I know, I know. Bu' with all the pra'tice I
give you, our poor ki's not gonna know wha' hi' him!"
"Or her. We don't know if it's going to be a him, Mulder, so don't go
assuming," she retorted.
"Okay, okay," he said, and held his hands up in mock surrender. Mulder
looked appreciatively at his very beautiful wife and still wondered how
the hell he got so lucky. She'd just started wearing maternity clothes,
as she was just entering her fifth month. Dana had been carrying small
enough that oversized blouses and stretch pants were more than roomy
enough to allow for her growing belly.
But now that she was entering her fifth month and had actually felt life
for the first time this past weekend, she decided it was time to break
down and welcome her pregnancy as a reality. A very welcomed, desired,
and anticipated reality. Scully was ecstatic about becoming a mother.
Mulder, on the other hand, was a basket case about becoming a father.
Which probably had something to do with his neglecting to buy batteries
for his hearing aids. He wasn't thinking straight. He was thinking a
lot, mind you, just not thinking straight.
He couldn't help but think about what kind of father he was going to make.
He couldn't help but wonder how much the past would interfere with that
duty. That responsibility.
Irresponsible. That's what Dana had just called him. And he thought she
was absolutely right. He was irresponsible. He couldn't possibly take
care of a baby, could he?
How could he take care of a baby when he couldn't hear well enough?
How could he take care of a baby when he couldn't walk well enough?
How could he take care of a baby when, even though he took his medication
religiously, he still had occasional petite mal seizures, and even a rare
grand mal seizure or two.
How could he take care of a baby when he didn't even have a steady job.
He was on disability, for crying out loud, and was reduced to taking on
consultant jobs with the bureau. Granted, the bureau seemed to require
Mulder's consultant skills often enough they would never starve, but he
still felt inadequate that he didn't have a full time position.
How could he take care of a baby when he wasn't sure he could adequately
take care of Scully? Granted, he knew Scully could take care of herself.
He'd always known that, which is one of the reasons he remained
astonished she chose to marry _him_.
How could he take of a baby when he wasn't sure he could adequately take
care of himself? He'd never had anyone to properly show him how.
No, that was a lie. His Abah showed him. His Abah cared for him when his
own father would not. Could not. But, was he more like his Abah, or his
That was the six-four dollar question that repeated itself over and over
again in Mulder's mind. Was he his father all over again?
"I'm out of here, Mulder," she called. "Mulder?" When she received no
answer, she quickly walked over to her husband and gently touched his
shoulder. She was worried he was having a petite mal seizure. "Hey,
G-Man, you in there?" she asked trying to keep her tone light.
"What? Sorry. I guess I zone' ou' there for a minu'e or two," he
replied. Mulder realize Scully had her Doctor's face on and quickly
reassured her. "Dana, I didn' ha'e a seizure, promise. I was jus'
thinkin'. Hones'," he said sincerely.
"Okay, but we need to talk later about what it was you were thinking so
hard about that you totally _zoned_ out on me," she replied. "But,
unfortunately it can't be now. I am now probably going to be very late if
the traffic is what I think it's going to be. When will I get as smart as
you and arrange my appointments for after ten o'clock?"
Mulder smiled at that and said, "Aw Scully, you're the smartest person I
know. I love you, G-Woman." He reached for her and pulled her over for a
kiss. He felt her responding to his touch and then felt, more than heard,
her sigh against his cheek.
"I've got to go _now_ Mulder, or that autopsy bay will definitely remain
empty," she said in frustration.
"So? Le' it! I can think of somethin' much more interestin' for you to
examine__," he leered.
"Yes, I bet you could," she retorted, but then added longingly, "and so
could I. But someone has to keep this family in medical insurance. And
at the moment, that would be me."
She didn't notice the grimace on his face, but she did feel the shudder.
"Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by that. I mean__," she tried
"Shhh, it's okay. You're just stating a fact. Now go to work before I
ravish you and make you beg to stay home with me," he responded.
Scully looked at Mulder and hoped he really didn't take her remark to
heart. She assumed he was a little upset because he felt since he was
under medical care all the time now she had to keep working.
That was part of it, but not totally. Yes, it disturbed him that he was
under medical care. Yes it disturbed him that Scully had to keep working
in order to insure they had medical insurance. But what Scully failed to
realize was Mulder's total feelings of inadequacy at not being able to
provide that insurance himself.
There were days he didn't feel like a whole person. Like a man. Like a
husband. Like a father.
"Mulder, you're doing it to me again!" Scully called to him.
"Oh, sorry. Go to work already! I gotta go shower and ge' ready for my
ri'e anyway. I love you, Scully," he said kissing her again.
"Love you too, Mulder," she said, "Goodbye. I'll call you later."
AD Skinner's Office
Walter had left his wife of less then a year at the door with a very
worried expression on her face early this morning. He tried to convince
her he was fine, but didn't do a very good job of it. He soon realized
why. He felt like crap and would probably do everyone a favor by just
turning around and going home.
But his desk was piled high with budget reports and expense reports and
voucher requests and he just didn't have enough time in a day to make a
dent in them. Going home was definitely not a viable option.
More aspirin. More aspirin was definitely a viable option. No, make that
a necessity. Unfortunately, he'd already taken his last three aspirin two
and a half hours ago.
"Kim?" he called through the intercom. "You wouldn't by any chance have
any aspirin handy, would you?"
"I have Tylenol ®, Sir. Would that do?" she asked.
"It'll have to until I can get the real stuff. Would you mind? I have a
splitting headache that does not want to quit," he groaned.
"Be right in, Sir."
"Thank you, Kim." He stood up to stretch and get some fresh water. He'd
never been one to be able to swallow pills dry. His son-in-law was able
to do that, but he'd never had the ability. Nor the practice, he thought
to himself, unlike his son-in-law.
It still felt strange, even after all these months, to call Mulder his
son-in-law. Although he'd always felt some kind of paternal bond with
Mulder, Skinner's marriage to Maggie Scully sealed the relationship. He
was officially a father-in-law, though he'd been Mulder's unofficial
"Abah" for a lot longer.
Abah. It meant "father" in Hebrew. He wondered what the Hebrew word for
grandfather was. Because that's what he was going to be in about four
months. Unbelievable. A grandfather. He smiled at the thought, but the
smile turned quickly into a grimace.
If he could only get rid of this damned headache.
He's always been a little nervous about headaches. Ever since Mulder
collapsed a couple of years ago in his office, complaining of a horrible
headache. It turned out the poor guy had meningitis, but no one took his
initial complaints seriously. It nearly cost him his life.
So Skinner had learned to take headaches seriously. And this was one
serious headache. He couldn't remember ever having one as severe as this
and wondered if this was what a migraine felt like. He had a good friend
in college who suffered from debilitating migraines. If this was what
they had felt like, he readily understood why the poor guy could barely
function when he had one.
Kim walked into the AD's office and gave a small gasp. The AD didn't look
well at all and his appearance frightened her. So much so, she felt it
necessary to be bold and said, "Sir, you don't look well. Please, sit
"What? I'll be all right, Kim. It's just a bad headache," he replied as
he remained standing but grimaced the entire time.
"Sir, I honestly do not think this is just a bad headache. You don't look
well at all. I'm going to call 911."
"Kim! You will do no such thing. I have a headache, that's ___," he
began, but then clutched his head.
"Ohmigod!" he gasped in pain.
"Sir?!" Kim called out anxiously.
"Call __," Skinner said, before he crumpled to the floor.
"Oh God!" Kim cried out. She ran immediately to the AD's desk and picked
up the phone to dial 911. After making that call, she decided to try
Quantico and call Dana Scully.
When she was finally put through, Dana picked up the phone. "Hello? Kim,
is this really important? I'm in the middle of a lecture."
"He's collapsed, Dana!" Kim said hurriedly.
"What? How? Where is Mulder?" Dana responded automatically in fear.
"Dana, no. Not Mulder. AD Skinner. AD Skinner's collapsed. Just now.
He was complaining of a headache and wanted some aspirin. I brought him in
some Tylenol ® but I saw he didn't look right. He kept saying it was just
a headache, but Dana, he looked like hell, and then he clutched his head
in agony and collapsed."
Dana was numb. She was almost desensitized to hearing about Mulder's
brushes with trauma and illness, but to be told Walter had collapsed was
beyond her comprehension. She forced herself to regroup and focus on the
immediate needs. "Kim, did you call 911?"
"Yes, of course. They should be here any moment. Wait, I hear them. Hold
on_," Kim instructed. Dana heard Kim calling out to the EMT's and
directed them to enter the AD's office. She could also hear them throwing
instructions to one another.
"Kim! Kim! Tell them the AD is on medication for high blood pressure,''
she called out hoping Kim would hear her.
"I'm sorry Dana, did you say something?" Kim asked as she rushed to pick
up the phone.
"Yes, tell the EMT's Walter is on medication for high blood pressure,"
"Okay," Kim replied and then did as requested. When asked what was the
name of the medication, Dana told her it was Cardizem ®.
Once again, Kim relayed the information to the EMT's.
"Kim, what hospital are they going to take him to?" asked Dana quickly.
"Hospital?" she echoed, and then turning to the paramedics, Kim asked,
"What hospital will you be taking AD Skinner to?"
"George Washington University Medical Center, ma'am," was the answer.
"GWU Medical Center, Dana," repeated Kim.
"I heard. I'm going to go collect Mulder. Oh God, my mother! Kim, have
you called my mom yet?" Dana asked.
"No, Dana, I called you first. Do you want to call her, or do you want me
to?" Kim asked.
"No, I'll call her, thanks. Then I'll get Mulder and we'll meet my Mom at
the hospital. God, maybe we should pick up my mom. I don't know if
she'll be able to drive__," she responded.
"Dana, I'll have an agent pick her up," Kim reassured her.
"Can you do that, Kim? That would be great," replied Dana.
"Hey, you don't work for the Assistant Director and not get some perks
with the job. I'll go to the hospital with him and wait there until you
and Mulder get there, okay?" Kim informed.
"Kim, you really are the best. Thank you so much," Dana said before she
disconnected in order to inform her mother of the bad news.
Dana was shaking. She'd just hung up the phone after speaking with her
mother. Somehow, she'd managed to maintain her composure while she was
actually on the line, but now that she'd hung up, Dana felt herself begin
to come apart at the seams.
Her mother told her told her how she'd noticed the headache this morning,
and how she'd pleaded with Walter to stay home and take it easy. Her
mother had known something was wrong but hadn't been able to convince her
husband of such.
"Damn him! Damn him and his stubbornness," she blurted out loud as she
made her way back into the lecture hall to make her excuses. She was sure
her father-in-law had a stroke of some kind, but she had no way of
knowing how serious it was. She prayed it was a minor event with no
As she made her way up in the elevator to the ISU section, Dana practiced
breathing deeply and worked hard to regain her composure. She realized if
Walter's collapse caused her this much anxiety, she could only imagine the
reaction Mulder would have.
Scully knew Mulder had come to look upon Walter as the father figure he'd
always longed for. He admired and respected Walter Skinner for both his
physical and emotional strength.
Dana feared for both men. If Walter did indeed have a stroke, she was
concerned his physical debilitation would weaken his emotional strength.
Dana didn't know who would suffer more from such a loss, Walter himself,
Or herself, she considered selfishly. She too had come to look upon
Walter Skinner as a father figure. Though she knew he could never replace
her own father, Walter never pretended he could. He did however let her
know that he would always be there for her if she needed to talk or just
required a paternal hug. She was grateful he was going to be the
grandfather to her child.
Her child. She hoped the stress she was now feeling wasn't adversely
affecting her baby. She continued concentrating on regaining a sense of
calm. She reassured herself that Walter took care of himself, and with
the exception of the high blood pressure, he was in good physical shape.
He'll be okay, she kept telling herself. She didn't find herself very
As she got off the elevator she walked toward the ISU offices. She never
did feel comfortable here and wondered if it was because the only women
that seemed to work in this section were the secretaries. Scully shook
her head as she realized they were still in the dark ages here. However
she also realized ISU was not for everyone, and certainly not for her.
Perhaps women were just smarter in avoiding this section. She wasn't
As she entered the inner sanctum, she walked up to Helena Stone's
receptionist's desk and asked her if Mulder had arrived yet.
"Hello Dana. Yes, as a matter of fact he arrived about twenty minutes
ago," she replied.
"Good. Helena, I need to speak with him," Dana said.
"He just went into a meeting, Dana, and they asked not to be disturbed."
"It's an emergency, Helena. I really need to speak with him. Please,"
Dana said urgently.
Helena nodded and buzzed the intercom button of the appropriate office.
"Yes? Helena, we asked not to be disturbed," was the terse response.
"Yes, Sir, and I apologize, but Dana Scully needs to speak with Mr.
Mulder." As Mulder no longer worked for the FBI full time and was hired
only on a consultant basis, he was no longer referred to by the title of
Agent. Mulder adapted to the loss of the title a lot quicker than Scully,
and she, in fact, still flinched slightly when she heard him referred to
as Mister rather than Special Agent.
"What line is she on, Helena?"
"She's here, Sir, at my desk."
When Scully heard the shuffle sound of a chair being moved, she realized
Mulder most likely replaced the worn batteries. He had definitely heard
Helena's response and was coming out to see her as quickly as his legs
would carry him.
Just moments later Scully saw Mulder moving toward her in his slightly
awkward gait. He still required the use of a cane to help him maintain
his balance. She was resigned to the idea he would never be able to give
up the cane, but it was certainly an improvement over the clumsy and
oversized walker he'd previously been forced to use.
Scully took one look at Mulder's face and knew he was in a state of panic.
She also knew he had every right to be, because Mulder also knew she
would never call him out of a closed meeting unless it was a real
emergency. Even though her stomach was churning with her own fears, for
her husband's sake, Scully knew she had to put her game face on.
"Are you all right?" he called out to her before he was even within ten
feet of her. "The baby?!" he cried out anxiously.
Scully nodded furiously to let him know she was okay, but waited until he
got closer so she could explain to him fully what was wrong.
"I'm okay, Mulder. It's not me__, " she began.
"__Mom?" he interrupted anxiously.
He hadn't meant his own mother, Elizabeth. He meant his mother -in-law,
Maggie, which of course made perfect sense to Scully. He would naturally
be most worried about the people he cared for most, and who cared for him
the most. Of course, it would never dawn on him that it was Walter. His
strong, able-bodied Abah. Dana knew this was going to be very hard for
"No, Mulder. Listen to me," she said with only a hint of a tremor. She
then took a deep breath and said, "Walter collapsed in his office today."
Mulder looked at her as though she were speaking a foreign language. He
honestly couldn't fathom what she was saying.
Walter? Walter Skinner? The God damned biggest, strongest, healthiest
man he knew?
Not his Walter Skinner. Not his father-in-law. Not his Abah.
"Wha'?" he replied weakly. "Wha' are you talkin' abou', Scully?"
"Mulder, Mom said Walter complained of a very bad headache this morning
before he left for work. She said he looked terrible and begged him to
stay home to rest. But of course he didn't, and Kim called to tell me he
collapsed after he had still been complaining about a headache.
"He'd asked for some aspirin, and when she went in to bring him some, she
said he clutched his head in pain and then collapsed. Mulder, he's
probably had a stroke," she said gently.
"Bu' tha's no' possible. He's so damn' healthy. How coul' he ha'e a
stroke?" he questioned. "Scully, he's no' gonna die, is he?"
Scully looked at her husband and knew he desperately needed to be
reassured his Abah was going to be as good as new. The only problem was,
she couldn't do that. She didn't know, and as much as she wanted to
believe Walter would be just fine, she couldn't just come right out and
tell Mulder that. Because it might not be true.
And if she told him his Abah would be fine and then found out he wasn't
fine, Scully felt that would probably be even more devastating to Mulder.
And Scully didn't want to take the chance. She couldn't take the chance.
So all she said was, "We're meeting Mom at George Washington University
Medical Center. Let's go."
Mulder looked at Helena, who, having heard the entire conversation,
merely looked back at him and said, "Go. I'll explain it to them."
Both Scully and Mulder looked back at her gratefully, said "Thank you" in
tandem, and left quickly.
Helena watched them as they departed, and wondered to herself why the hell
some people had to face so much damn shit in life.
End of Part 1/5
Disclaimers in part 1
George Washington University Medical Center
Mulder and Scully arrived at the hospital before Maggie. Mulder hadn't
said a word during the entire ride over, and Scully was worried about him.
Stress and Mulder were not a good combination, and she feared he would
end up in a hospital bed right next to their father-in-law.
When they arrived, they walked immediately into the ER desk.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for a possible stroke victim that was just brought
in. Walter Skinner?" said Scully.
The ER receptionist nodded her head and told them she would check. She
then pointed to the waiting room and advised them to take a seat. Scully
and Mulder walked into the waiting room and saw Kim.
"Kim! Kim, what's going on?" asked Scully anxiously.
"Oh God, Dana, I'm so relieved to see you're here. They'd asked me how
long he wasn't feeling well. I told them he really hadn't looked all that
well this morning when he'd walked in. They said it was really important
to establish when he'd started not feeling well, so they would know how to
prescribe treatment," she said.
"They probably wanted to know if they could begin the t-PA treatment. I
would guess they decided against it, and that was probably wise. It's
only effective if begun within three hours of the onset of the stroke.
From the description you gave and the one I received from my mother,
apparently this episode began very early this morning," explained Dana.
"How lon' ha' he been in there?" asked Mulder.
"Not long. Only about twenty minutes," responded Kim.
"Whe' ca' we see him, Scully?" he asked.
"Soon, Mulder. I hope soon. I would guess they're prepping him for some
tests," she answered.
Kim then announced she was going to go back to the office to hold down the
fort. She needed to cancel the AD's appointments and start filling out
the paper work for what she would assume would be a medical leave of
absence. "Call me when you've heard any news, Dana. Please?" she
"Of course I will, Kim. And thank you so much for all of your help,"
Scully replied while she took Kim into a warm, grateful embrace. Kim then
gave Mulder a quick hug as well and then went on her way.
Just then Scully heard her name being called out, and when she looked up,
Scully saw her mother walking quickly toward them.
"Dana, where is he? Is he okay? Where is he?" Maggie cried out over and
"Mom, we just got here ourselves. We're waiting for the doctor to let us
know what's going on," Scully said.
"Oh, God. I knew I shouldn't have let him go to work this morning. He
was acting strange, Dana. He kept rubbing his arm and then his head. He
looked like hell, and he kept complaining of a headache. Damn it! Why
did I let him go to work?" she cried out.
"Mom, there's a good chance he would have collapsed at home too, so don't
berate yourself, please," Dana offered in hopes of comforting her, but she
knew it was useless.
"I wish I knew what was going on," Maggie complained. "Why won't anyone
tell us what's going on?"
As if on cue, a doctor came out calling out for the Skinner family, and
Maggie raced ahead of Mulder and Dana to speak with him. "I'm Maggie
Skinner," she said quickly. "Please, where is my husband?"
"Hello Mrs. Skinner. I'm Dr. Landers. Your husband has been taken up for
some tests, though we're pretty sure we'll discover he's had a brain
attack. A stroke."
"It certainly would fit the symptoms," interjected Dana. "Dr. Landers,
Walter Skinner is my father-in-law. I'm Dr. Dana Scully. This is my
husband, Fox Mulder."
"Dr. Scully, Mr. Mulder," Dr. Landers acknowledged. He then turned to
Maggie and told her, "Mrs. Skinner, we've taken your husband up for a CAT
scan. That will give us a picture of what kind of damage was done by the
stroke. He should be done in less then an hour. If you'd like, the CAT
scans are done on the third floor. There's a waiting room up there."
"Yes, yes, thank you. Will I be able to see him?" Maggie asked.
"Once he's done with the CAT scan, I'm sure you'll be allowed to see him
for a few minutes," the doctor said, and with that, he pointed the trio
toward the elevators.
When Dr. Allison Crane entered the waiting room, she observed three people
sitting next to one another looking very nervous indeed. She'd always
dreaded these discussions with family members, because as much as they
wanted specifics in terms of damage and cures, she simply couldn't give it
to them. She could give them a hint of the future, but nothing more.
She hoped this family would be able to deal with this kind of trauma, as
not all families were able to pull together to support a loved one that
faced a major, debilitating condition, no matter how temporary.
"Mrs. Skinner?" Dr. Crane called out.
"Yes? May I see my husband now?" she asked hurriedly.
"In a few minutes. We're in the process of admitting him and they're
getting a room ready for him. You'll be able to see him there. I would
like to explain to you our findings, however. Do you think you're up to
it?" Dr. Crane asked gently.
"Yes, of course. How is my husband?" Maggie asked resolutely.
"Well, he definitely had a stroke," Dr. Crane began. She watched the
three family members gasp slightly. Even though Dr. Crane was quite sure
they were all aware Walter Skinner most likely had a stroke, she knew it
was always a shock to hear it definitively diagnosed.
"What side of the brain was affected, Doctor?" asked Scully.
"Well, it appears the left side of the brain sustained the damage. The
good news is the area involved appears to be relatively small, but he will
still require a recuperative period," Dr. Crane responded.
"Was it a cerebral thrombosis, Dr. Crane?" Scully asked.
"Actually, it appears to be more likely Lacunar. The arterioles off of
Mr. Skinner's larger arteries were subject to pressure over a long period
of time, so the vessel walls thickened and closed off.
"Now, I realize that sounds scary__," Dr. Crane began.
"__No, that's actually better. The infarctions would be smaller than a
Thrombotic episode, right?" asked Scully.
"Excuse me, but is it my imagination, or do we have a ringer in the room?"
Dr. Crane said with a small smile.
"Dr. Crane, I'm sorry. My name is Dana Scully. Dr. Dana Scully. I'm a
forensic pathologist. This is my husband, Fox Mulder, who is a consultant
with the FBI. Walter is our father-in-law," Dana explained.
Dr. Crane nodded in greeting to Mulder and to Scully. "Okay, then perhaps
you realize that Mr. Skinner's hypertension did play a role in this. I'm
going to recommend that he be very careful with his diet in the future, as
well as monitor his medication more closely."
"Is he goin' to be all righ'?" interjected Mulder, who just wanted to get
to the heart of the matter and then see his Abah.
"As a rule, Mr. Mulder, Lacunar episodes have a higher recovery rate than
Thrombotic and Hemorrhagic episodes, so yes, I would say he has a better
chance of regaining _most_ of his motor skills after a period of rehab. I
will tell you now, at the moment his speech seems to be impaired, but that
is not unusual for stroke victims. You will just need to show a lot of
patience with him," she said.
"Doctor, I don' thin' tha' will be a pro'lem for this family. Trus' me on
this one, okay?" Mulder said with a small twinkle in his eye. He was
relieved. This doctor had given him the first ray of hope that Walter
would be able to recover from this.
"Why do I have the feeling you have first hand knowledge of this, Mr.
Mulder?" Dr. Crane asked, noting for the first time the poor speech
articulation, hearing aids and cane resting against the worried man's
"Le's jus' say they ha' a lo' of practice on me," Mulder said. "I really
wan' to go see him. Now."
Dr. Crane looked at the man seated before her. She understood the
patient was this man's father-in-law, which was not necessarily the tie
that would normally represent a close relationship.
Yet, she sensed there was more than just the ordinary connection between
these two, and if that were the case, it would bode well for all of them.
Especially Mrs. Skinner, who would need all of the support and help she
"Come, let's see if Mr. Skinner has been settled in yet," Dr. Crane said.
Upon seeing Dana stand up, Dr. Crane observed the protruding belly and
asked, "How far along?"
"I'm beginning my fifth month."
"Good! I had my second child last year. They're a handful, but they sure
give me practice for night rotations," she said lightly, and then in a
more serious tone, "You take care of yourself through all of this, do you
understand? The baby can feel stress, and believe me, babies do not like
Dana nodded in appreciation of the Doctor's warning, but wondered how she
would be able to avoid stress. The fact that Walter had a better chance
of recovery due to the type of stroke he had was one thing, but he was
going to need a lot of support and therapy. Her mother could do only so
much. Dana knew she had to prepare herself for a lot of hard work, but
she'd done it for Mulder and she would have to prepare herself to do it
GWU Medical Center
They walked in to find Walter hooked up to a number of IV's, a heart
monitor, and an EEG His eyes were closed, but Maggie was sure he wasn't
"Walter? Sweetheart, we're here," she said in soothing tones. Maggie
worked hard to keep her voice even, though her own heart felt like it was
racing a mile a minute. But she knew she had to remain calm, and strong,
for Walter's sake. If he saw panic in her eyes or heard anxiety in her
voice, it would only hurt his chance of recovery.
Dana, on the other hand, looked at her father-in-law with a Doctor's eye.
She noted the IV drips that were dispensing fluids and medications, as
well as the catheter tube that ran to the side of the bed which measured
his urine output. She noted he wore the finger monitor for his pulse,
and, for the time being at any rate, was also hooked up to a heart
monitor. Scully also took note of the EEG electrodes attached to Walter's
forehead and scalp.
He looked like crap. That was Dr. Scully's qualified medical opinion and
hoped she and her mom would be up to the task of helping Walter
Mulder, meanwhile, looked at his father-in-law and promptly bit his lower
lip to prevent himself from crying out. His big, strong Abah suddenly
looked so small laying in the hospital bed while attached to what appeared
to be a million and one tubes and machines.
*My God, is that what I'd looked like?* he wondered to himself. *Oh,
Abah, I promise I will help you get well. I promise,* he thought to
himself, as much for himself as it was for Walter.
Walter opened his eyes slowly. The light hurt somewhat, but he heard
voices and wondered who was invading his space now. He thought he would
scream if one more person poked him, prodded him, or stuck him with
When his eyes finally adjusted to the light and focused on the people in
the room, he startled momentarily. Maggie and Dana looked so concerned.
And Mulder. Mulder looked so frightened.
They were so worried about him. *I'll be okay, you'll see,* he thought.
He wanted desperately to shout it out to them, but the only coherent word
that came out of his mouth was:
Maggie jumped when she heard Walter's voice as much as when she heard what
he said. "Walter?"
"Shit, shit, shit," he repeated.
Maggie stood near him and reached for his hand. "Sweetheart, it's going
to be okay. You'll see. The doctor said you should recover very nicely."
Walter looked into his wife's eyes and saw the love in there, but he also
thought he saw something else. Pity. He couldn't stand the idea of
Maggie pitying him. He tried to speak, but all that came out of his mouth
"Mmmm__, Mmmm__, " and then he stopped, exhausted from the effort.
The door opened and Bonnie Thompson, RN, walked through the door. She had
a wide grin pasted on her face and greeted everyone with as much cheer as
she could muster. Bonnie knew how difficult it was for families to see
hope when they entered the room of a stroke victim for the first time, so
she wanted to be sure they would see it in her eyes.
"Good afternoon, folks. It's lovely to see Mr. Skinner's family here for
him," Bonnie greeted.
"Good afternoon," Maggie replied politely, "but I don't understand
something. The doctor said Walter was having trouble speaking. When we
first came in he managed to utter an expletive as clear as rain, but now,
he can't seem to get anything out."
"Mrs. Skinner?" Bonnie asked by way of introduction, and upon seeing the
confirming nod she continued, "It's called 'automatic speech,' and it's
very common. It's thought that kind of speech is stored in a different
part of the brain from that of normal speech, so it's undamaged.
"It shouldn't be considered too much of a problem, folks. But of course,"
Bonnie began, and this time addressing her comments directly to the fallen
AD, "if you were in the profession of my last stroke patient, well then I
could see a potential problem."
When Skinner looked up at Bonnie with a slight twinkle in his eye, she
knew this one was going to be just fine. He was well aware of her and
what she was saying, and even interpreted her words and foresaw something
humorous on the way.
"Well, you see Mr. Skinner," Bonnie continued with more than just a
twinkle in her eyes now, "when that lovely four letter
'f '- word expletive meaning copulation came out clear as day from the
sweet mouth of Sister Mary Andres, the good Father wasn't quite sure what
to make of it."
Everyone looked at Bonnie. Then everyone's head turned to Walter, as out
of his mouth came one of the heartiest laughs they'd ever heard, not to
mention, "Shit, shit, shit!" over and over again.
"Well it's a true story, Mr. Skinner, as I live and breathe. And Father
Domenic finally came to see the humor in it too, though admittedly not
quite as quickly as you did. I think you're going to do just fine, Mr.
Skinner. You're a hard worker, aren't you?" she asked as she plumped up
the pillows under his head and checked his IV's and urine output.
Bonnie then withdrew from the closet and placed an elongated soft pillow
under Skinner's right leg and another, standard sized pillow under his
right arm. She explained that since the stroke occurred on the left side
of his brain, Skinner's right side was the area that was affected. He was
experiencing some paralysis, and even to the extent that the right side of
Skinner's face drooped a little. The pillows would prevent sores from
Maggie hadn't noticed her husband's paralysis until Bonnie gently pointed
it out. The nurse went on to give helpful hints to the family, all the
while making sure she included Walter in the conversation.
"You do understand everything we're saying, don't you Mr. Skinner. If you
do, would you give us a thumbs up with your left hand?" Skinner's left
thumb went up immediately.
"Good! Just as I suspected. Okay, I'm going to leave you to visit for a
bit, but I shall be kicking you out in about twenty minutes. Mr. Skinner
needs his rest, as do you all." Looking directly at Dana, she then said,
"Some of us more than others, I can see. So you're going to make this
handsome, young man a grandpa already!" Bonnie added flirtatiously.
Skinner managed a big, albeit lopsided, smile at that comment.
Maggie, wise woman that she was, smiled as well. She knew her husband was
going to be okay when he responded to the nurse in such a normal manner.
She just wished she had some idea as to how long it would take.
Dana forced a smile as well but wondered if this nurse wasn't being just a
bit overly optimistic, if not overly cloying to boot. After all, this was
her father-in-law who was laying in that bed having suffered a very
traumatic event. Dana felt she'd have her work cut out for her.
Mulder just stood there, wondering what he could do to help his
father-in-law get back on his feet. He wanted to begin right then and
there. He wanted to kick everyone out of the room, and just get started
in helping Walter start on the road to recovery, as Walter had done for
him so many months ago.
He didn't have a clue as to where to begin.
He didn't have a clue as to whether he could begin.
He'd been so worried about his ability to be a father to his son.
Now Mulder wondered about his ability to be a son to his Abah.
GWU Medical Center
Physical Therapy Room
Two days later
"Okay Mr. Skinner, let's try this again. We're going to get you standing
up and see if you're able to maintain your balance," Jayne Hughs, one of
the on staff Physical Therapists, said.
"I'm glad to see you too, Mr. Skinner," she said lightly.
"Sssorrry," he said. Skinner's speech began to come back late last night
and he found he was better able to retrieve words and actually form them
on his lips. Unfortunately, he was still finding it difficult to string
more than one word together to form a sentence.
"No problem, Mr. Skinner. I've learned to not take things too personally
when I'm working with my aphasia patients. But your speech seems to be
coming back nicely. That's a very good sign," she said encouragingly.
"Yes, it will be for a little while, but you'll see. It will come back.
Be patient with yourself, okay? Now let's get back to the balancing act,
please. No more procrastination," Jayne said.
Jayne laughed, and moments later, Skinner joined her.
Walter was wheeled back to his room after the twenty minute therapy
session. He knew he'd be going back later this afternoon for another
session with Jayne as well as with Laurie, the Occupational Therapist.
For right now, however, he was grateful to be back in his room. He felt
Moments later, Dana and Mulder walked into the door. Walter knew Maggie
had gone to grab a bite to eat, something he was extremely jealous of,
since he was having a little trouble chewing and swallowing. He recalled
the doctor called it dysphagia, and along with the aphasia, Skinner knew
he'd be very happy when he no longer had to deal with either condition.
Soon. He kept telling himself this nightmare would be over soon, he'd go
home and take it easy for a little while, and then everything would be
fine. He was so sure of it. So when his kids, (he still couldn't believe
he thought of them as _his kids_) walked in the door and looked so grim,
he didn't understand why. He was feeling so much better. Couldn't they
tell? He would have to tell them himself.
"Hi Abah," Dana said and then added with just a hint of sarcasm, "We love
"Sssssoooorrrrrry," he replied with just a hint of a chuckle added.
"Hey, you're talking!" Dana replied excitedly. "Does Mom know?"
Skinner nodded in the affirmative, and then said, "Ttttiiirred."
"You're tired?" Scully asked.
Skinner shook his head no and said, "Mmmmoom," he replied.
"I know she is, but you know she can't relax with you in the hospital.
She just wants to bring you home already," Dana said.
"Mmmmooorre ___ , ttttttiiiiirrrred," he managed to utter.
"I suppose she would be more tired if she were expected to take care of
you alone," Dana said understanding exactly what Walter meant, "but Abah,
we won't allow that."
"Wwwhaaat?" Skinner asked in a state of confusion.
"We wouldn't dream of asking Mom to take on your care all by herself.
We'll be there to help her, Abah. I promise," Dana said.
Walter smiled at her gratefully, but then gazed at her protruding belly.
"Bbbaaaby," he said as he tried with a great deal of effort pick up his
right hand to point towards Dana.
"The baby will be very happy to help out her grandpa," she replied.
Mulder felt himself becoming more and more frustrated. It was as if
neither party realized he was in the room. It was as if neither his wife
nor his father-in-law felt he would be of any help in Walter's
recuperation. Mulder knew he had to put an end to that notion,
"I'll be there too," he said in his clearest speech. "I'll be there to
Dana looked over at her husband and smiled. "You're damned straight you
will. This is going to be a team effort, and you, my dear Abah, will be
working your ass off to pull your weight too. Get it?"
"Shit," Skinner said, and then began chuckling.
Maggie walked in on them just as Walter was calming down. "And what was
that all about?" she asked curiously.
"Oh, we were just reminding the dear man that he was going to be working
his tail off to ensure his full recuperation. We also informed him he was
going to have two additional watch dogs to keep an eye on him. That is,
of course, if it's okay with you.
"Mom, we'd like to move back in with you again, just for a little while.
Just until Walter gets a little further in his rehab, okay?" Dana asked
tentatively. She knew her mom welcomed the help, but it seemed as though
it were only a short while ago that she'd finally gotten her house back to
herself and Walter, and now this.
Maggie startled a bit at hearing Dana's words. She knew Walter would need
time to recover fully, but she hadn't really thought ahead enough to
consider what kind of arrangements she'd need to make for his homecoming.
She liked having her house back to herself and her husband. The thought of
having it occupied by her daughter and son-in-law was something she'd not
even considered, nor would have wanted if given the choice.
But the more Maggie thought about it, the more it made sense. She would
need help with Walter's care, at least in the beginning, and since Dana,
oh and Fox too, had fairly flexible hours, it would probably be most
helpful to have them move back in with her. Dana would be a big help.
She was sure of it.
"Thank you, sweetheart. To be honest, I hadn't thought that far ahead,
but yes, it would certainly make sense and help me out a great deal."
Mulder felt invisible again. What the hell was wrong with him. No one
thought he was competent to help Walter. They were probably right. If
anything, he would probably get in the way. Oh God, he hoped he wouldn't
do anything to screw things up.
End of Part 2/5
Disclaimers in Part 1
By the end of the first week, not only were Mulder and Scully resettled in
the Maggie's house, so was Walter. Everyone was on their best behavior
that first week. Even Walter.
His speech had come back by that point, and though everyone was thankful,
they'd begun to wish he was a little more judicious in using his voice,
for by the end of the second week the honeymoon effect waned. By the end
of the third week, all hell broke loose.
Mulder and Dana used the master bedroom upstairs, while Maggie and Walter
were relegated to the sofa bed in the first floor den. Not the most
comfortable arrangement for Walter and Maggie, but it was definitely the
Since Walter's right side was still affected, he was unable to negotiate
the stairs which disturbed Walter a great deal. Skinner remembered all
too clearly how helpless Mulder looked when the younger man was confined
to the den during his recoveries, and it bothered Walter to see himself in
the same light.
He was a cripple. He acted like a cripple, since he couldn't maintain his
balance or walk without some kind of assistance. He looked like a
cripple, since his right arm still hung, mostly useless, at his side,
while his right leg still dragged when he walked. But worst of all, he
felt like a cripple, since even his own wife and daughter-in-law treated
him as such.
"Walter," he'd remembered her saying, "It's time to use the bathroom,
He'd cringed when he'd heard those words. Not even Mulder, in his worst
physical condition, had been reduced to using the bathroom on a schedule.
Walter knew he didn't have full sensation on his right side, and he
didn't always sense his need to urinate. He'd embarrassed the hell out of
himself the first night he was home when he'd wet himself and the sofa
He had felt, needless to say, totally mortified and completely humiliated.
So when Maggie had phoned the doctor for a suggestion on how to deal with
the problem, short of putting him in a Depends ®, Skinner was relieved
that the solution seemed so simple. Now, however, the routine made him
cringe, and Walter cursed Maggie under his breath every time she announced
Even Dana's attitude seemed alien to him. Walter had always felt Dana
respected him, but since the damned stroke, he felt only her pity. When
she'd come home from Quantico, she took over for Maggie to give his wife
some respite. He was grateful that Maggie got a break, but he resented
Scully's hovering, no matter how well intentioned it was.
If he tried to stand, Scully was there. If he tried to speak, Scully
completed the sentence for him. If he tried to eat something, Scully was
there to wipe his chin. The evening Scully had decided it was necessary
to check up on him while he was sitting on the bathroom throne, trying to
do his business, was the last straw.
He had been embarrassed. He had been angry. He had exploded.
She started to work late.
Which left all the responsibilities on Maggie's shoulders. Which gave
Walter even more chances to resent her, for one reason or another.
Of course, it was worse at night. As difficult as it was for Walter to
deal with the stress of the therapies and debilitation, he felt there was
nothing more agonizing than feeling unable to function as a husband.
He let Maggie down. He let himself down. He felt, however, there was
nothing he could do about it. He wanted to hold Maggie and prove his love
for her, for he loved her very much, but he felt ashamed he couldn't even
put his arms around her, much less sustain an erection long enough to make
love to her.
And how he wanted to make love to her. But he couldn't. And he was too
ashamed to talk it over with her. He felt like a failure and was too
ashamed to admit it to her.
So he pushed her away. And she was at the point where she was ready to
"Walter, talk to me," she pleaded. "I want to help you, but I need you to
talk to me."
"There's nothing to say," he said flatly.
"No, there's plenty to say. Walter, you've had a stroke which has thrown
this entire family for a loop, but we love you, and we will get through
this. But you have to talk to me. You have to tell me why you're so
angry with me," she begged.
"I'm not angry with you," he replied.
"Bullshit! Walter, you are so angry with me, you can hardly look at me!
And you haven't so much as touched me since you've come home. Walter, I
miss your touch," she moaned painfully.
"I can't," he groaned back in equal pain.
"What do you mean you can't? How can you sit there and tell me you
can't?!" Maggie shouted in anger.
"LOOK AT ME!" he screamed back. He grasped his right hand with his left
and raised it as high as he could. He let go and looked Maggie straight
in the eye as his left arm fell to his side with a thud.
"It's dead," he said in monotone. "I'm dead."
"You are not dead, Walter. How can you say that? Please, don't say that.
I love you," Maggie cried out.
"I love you, Maggie, but__, but I__," he stammered.
"But what, Walter? Talk to me. Please."
"I can't go on like this. Maggie, one minute you're conversing with me
like my best friend, and the next minute you're complaining to me like a
shrew because you're tired and overworked.
"One minute you're kissing me tenderly like a wife, and the next minute
you're wiping my chin like a nursemaid, because I'd dribbled and hadn't
"One minute you want to lay next to me and touch me like a lover, and the
next minute you treat me like I'm a toddler and tell me it's time to go
take piss so I don't wet the bed.
"Maggie, who are you?" he asked sincerely. "Are you my friend or my
adversary? My wife or my nursemaid? My lover or my mother? I don't know
who you are anymore.
"Which is so hard, Maggie, because I'm having a hard enough time figuring
out who _I_ am," he concluded.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked sincerely. "What should I do?"
"Go," the voice said.
"Walter?" Maggie asked, visibly shaken by the response.
"Go, Mom," he said.
"Fox? How long have you been standing there?" she asked.
"Long enough to understan' you both nee' a break from one another," he
"Oh Fox, sweetheart, thank you. But I don't think that would be wise,"
Maggie replied as diplomatically as possible.
"Mom, don't we nee' some milk or somethin'?" Mulder asked.
"I don't think __," she began to answer having taken him literally.
"__Mom! Go ta'e a walk! Get ou' of the house for a little while. Walter
will be fine. I promise," Mulder pleaded. He then looked at his
mother-in-law with an intensity she hadn't remembered seeing since Dana
was missing so many years ago.
"Mom, get ou' of the house. Don' turn yourself into a prisoner li'e you
did when I was the one on the couch. Please, Mom. Do somethin' nice for
yourself. Go," he implored.
Maggie Skinner looked at her son-in-law and then turned her gaze toward
her husband. She saw something in their eyes that she hadn't even
realized was there, because she hadn't been looking for it. But it was
there in both pairs of eyes.
When Maggie had left, Skinner looked at Mulder and wondered if this was
really going to work. His son-in-law was, physically, only somewhat
better off than he was. While Skinner, for the time being, experienced
hemiplegia, Mulder's disability actually affected all four extremities.
Mulder relied on his cane for support, much in the same way that Skinner
relied on others' arms. Mulder walked out of the room for a moment and
carried in a shiny silver object. His old walker.
"Mulder, I can't use that. I can't grasp it well enough," Skinner said.
"Tha's why they invented Velcro, Walter," Mulder replied cheerfully. He
proceeded to unfold the walker and pulled out a roll of Velcro tape. He
created a loop out of the Velcro and wrapped it as such that it would not
slip and the AD could simply slip his hand though and use it as a handle.
He could easily improve the grip by using his left hand to readjust and
tighten it up on the right hand.
"Try it." Mulder looked at him and waited. When the AD simply stood
there, Mulder glared at him straight in the eye and stated very firmly,
"Wha's the worse tha' could happen, Abah? It doesn' work? Maybe, bu' you
won' know unless you try."
"Fine," he whispered. He was nervous at first, but Skinner actually had
more range of motion in his right arm than he'd realized. When it came
time to move the walker forward, he found he was able to lift it and bring
it down in front of him. He then took a forward step with his left foot,
and brought the right one up next to it.
Walter looked at Mulder with a sense of pure awe. In less then ten
minutes Mulder had given his father-in-law a gift, with a single roll of
Velcro, what no one else had been able to provide during the past three
Walter finally felt he'd gained some control back in his own life.
When Scully entered the backdoor of the house, she expected to see her
mother busily attending to whatever little necessity needed addressing.
That might have been the laundry or the dinner dishes, or perhaps even the
preparation of a snack dish. But when she entered, the kitchen was dark
except for the dim oven hood light. She called out for her mom, and when
she didn't get the expected response, Scully felt a sense of panic well up
"Mom!? Mom!?" she called as she ran into the den. When she saw her
husband, seated placidly on the chair next to her father-in-law who sat on
the couch, she instinctively asked, "Are you all right?"
"Why wouldn't we be all right?" Walter asked.
"Where's Mom?" she asked anxiously.
"Out," Mulder replied distinctly and with a hidden sense of pride.
"Out? What do you mean out?" Scully asked incredulously.
"She went out to buy some milk, or something," Walter said.
"Are you kidding me? Is she crazy? Walter, what would ever possess her
to leave you alone like this?!" she cried out angrily.
Mulder's face dropped as far down to the floor as was humanly possible.
He couldn't remember feeling as invisible or as useless as he'd felt at
that very moment. His wife had just reduced his very sense of worth to
that of a chair ornament.
"Dana!? What the hell's the matter with you?" yelled Walter, who
understood very well the damage his daughter-in-law had just caused.
"Me? There is nothing wrong with ___,"Dana began, but as she was ready to
complete her thought, a movement out of the corner of her eye caught her
attention. She turned to see Mulder rise awkwardly out of the chair.
"Abah? I thin' I nee' some fresh air," Mulder said to Skinner, all the
while totally ignoring Scully's gaze. "Wanna come wi' me on the 'porsh'?"
he asked nervously.
"Sure," Walter replied smiling with enough confidence for both of them.
Mulder had been leaning heavily on his cane. He then walked over to the
side of the couch and pulled out the walker which had been out of Scully's
range of vision. Mulder placed the walker, with its makeshift Velcro
handle, in front of his father-in-law.
"Here ya go, Abah," Mulder offered. Mulder hadn't meant to, but he held
his breath while his father-in-law struggled somewhat to grasp the walker.
Skinner pulled his right hand up onto the handle, and then tightened the
Velcro surrounding his right hand with his left. He then, independently,
pulled himself up to a standing position.
"Let's go, Mulder," he said as he started ambulating toward the front
door. He felt his lips forming a bigger and bigger smile as he got closer
to the door. But he broke out into an honest to goodness ear to ear grin
when he heard his daughter-in-law gasp, "Holy shit."
As Skinner walked out the door Mulder held open, he heard his son-in-law's
voice whisper, "Than's Abah."
Skinner never felt happier to oblige.
End of part 3/5
Disclaimers in part 1
The two men sat in easy silence for a while. After some time passed,
Mulder breathed deeply and said, "It really sucks, you know."
"Yeah, I know," Walter responded, and he did know.
"I thought it was starting to ge' better, but I guess not. I guess it
never really ge's better," Mulder returned with a deep sigh. "I guess
I'll always ha'e to prove myself."
Skinner wanted so desperately to allay the younger man's fears and tell
him, no, not for always. He didn't say anything though, because Walter
knew there was more truth in Mulder's statement than he cared to admit.
This was because Walter knew what was good for the Mulder, was good for
the Skinner. Walter knew he would be forever having to prove himself and
his own abilities. The effects of the stroke were slowly abating, but
most likely would not disappear entirely. Even if the physical problems
were vanquished, the memories of the stroke's aftereffects were indelibly
printed on not just his mind, but Maggie's, Dana's and Mulder's.
No, Walter's stroke would not be easily forgotten.
It would probably never be forgotten.
So Walter sat next to his son-in-law and silently agreed. It really did
An hour or so more passed, and both men watched as Maggie pulled her car
into the driveway. They saw her climb out and open the back door to
retrieve a large shopping bag with handles. She closed her car doors and
walked up the front steps to the house.
When she reached the front porch, Maggie nodded at the two men sitting on
the chairs and simply said, "Dinner's ready any time you are. Chinese
Walter nodded in acknowledgment and said, "We'll be inside in a minute or
"Okay," she said agreeably, "I'll set the table."
Mulder watched the door close behind her and then said, "She's a wonderful
"Yes, she is."
"She loves you very much," Mulder stated.
"Yes, she does."
"An' you love her too," Mulder stated.
"Yes, I do," Walter said, sensing the younger man was uneasy about the
evenings emotional highs and lows. "We simply had a disagreement,
Mulder," he said, but having thought about it for a moment or two, he
clarified his statement and said, "Oh hell, we had a knock down drag out
fight, but that doesn't mean I stopped loving the woman," Walter said.
After only a slight hesitation, he added, "Anymore than you stopped loving
"I do love her, but___," Mulder paused.
"___But you're pissed off as hell with her. You're allowed to feel angry,
Mulder. But, you've got to talk with her, and let her know your feelings,
or else it festers and you end up making the woman you adore go out and
buy Chinese take out food for dinner. Which, by the way, smelled very
good," he said with a small smile. "C'mon, I'm hungry."
"Abah, I don' know if I wan' to go back in there righ' now."
"Wha'?" he asked incredulously.
"You heard me. I said, tough. Get up and get your ass inside so you can
straighten this shit out with your wife so we can eat," declared Walter.
"You shoul' talk, damn it!" Mulder responded tensely. "You're angry with
"Yep, and as soon as we get inside I plan on telling her the reasons I am
angry, and then I'm going to give her the biggest kiss this side of the
Mississippi, because I love the woman so damned much. If someone's got to
piss me off, I'd rather it be Maggie any day. Does that make any kind of
sense, Fox?" Walter asked.
"Yeah, I thin' so," he responded.
Walter stood up a little more easily from the firmly cushioned porch
furniture, grasped the walker and stood in front of the closed door.
"Umm, need a little help here," he said.
Mulder moved quickly over and opened the door so the two of them could
face their wives.
When they entered the kitchen, Maggie watched in astonishment as Walter
walked over in, independent of anyone's help. "Walter, you're a genius!
Why didn't we think of a handle for the walker?"
"I don't know, but apparently if we'd have asked Mulder, I would have been
up and around with the walker a lot sooner. It was his idea, Maggie,"
Walter explained quickly.
"Oh!" she responded with surprise, but then added earnestly, "Fox, thank
"You're welcomed, Mom," he replied stiffly. He then turned to Scully and
said in a quiet, clearly articulated voice , "We have to talk. Now,
Dana." He turned to leave the room.
Dana nodded automatically and got up to follow him into the den. When she
entered the room and looked over, she found him peering intently at her.
After several moments of silence she whispered, "I'm sorry."
Mulder stared mutely and waited.
She returned his gaze and said again, with a little more conviction this
time, "I am so sorry, Mulder. It was so mean of me. I can't believe I
Mulder considered his next words to her carefully.
"Are you sorry for the wor's, Scully, or are you sorry you spoke them
At first she hesitated, because she knew the significance behind his
question. She knew her cutting words were the worst kind of betrayal,
because he felt a loss of her trust. She was afraid to deal with it, and
when Scully was afraid to deal with something, she tended to take a hard
"Mulder, what do you want me to do? Don't put me in this position. Don't
do this to me," she demanded.
"To you? Di' I jus' hear you say, don' do this to you?
"Scully, I'm the one who became the Invisible Man abou' an hour or so ago.
ShiT, I've been pretty much invisible ever since Walter came home from
the hospital. Neither you, nor Mom, fel' I was capable enough to help you
in any way.
"So if you don' 'mine', I would li'e you to answer my question. Are you
upse' for having thoughT the words, or for having thoughT them and voice'
them in my presence?"
She calmed herself down as much as she could. She knew how she wanted to
answer him, but Dana also knew Mulder wouldn't accept anything less than
the truth. "Honestly, Mulder?" He nodded. "I don't know."
He could tell she'd given him an honest answer, but it didn't lessen the
sense of hurt. "Oh, Scully," he moaned quietly.
"Mulder, you know I love you, don't you? I love you so much," she cried
"I love you too, Scully, with all my heart. Bu'__," he hesitated.
"But what___?" she asked.
"Bu' I__, I don' _like_ you very much at the moment," Mulder replied to
her initial question.
"Oh, Mulder, I shouldn't have said what I said. I really am sorry," Dana
"Dana, jus' saying you're sorry is no' gonna make the hur' go away. My
God, Dana, if you don' believe I'm capable of watching a full grown adul',
wha' were you plannin' to do with me when our baby is born?" Mulder asked
as he tried hard to keep his emotions in check, but he felt himself become
more visibly upset as the words poured out of him.
"ShiT, Dana, when the baby is born, do you expec' me to stan' by the
doorway and simply wave 'hello' to the baby from afar? Will I ever get
chance to be with my child, or do you have it all planne' out for a baby
nurse to watch me twenty-four hours a day to be sure I don'T touch him?
"Damn you and your doubts! I ha'e enough of my own already, thank you
very much, I don' nee' yours too. Do you know how many times I've
wondere' if I wouldn'T do more harm than good to our baby? God, Dana,
it's all I've thoughT abou' for the las' three months.
"Then Walter ha' his stroke, and I fel' I ha' a chance to prove to
_myself_ I coul' help care for him. The ironic thing is, it was never me
I ha' to prove it to. I knew I coul' help Walter. Shit, it hasn' been
tha' long since I'd been down the road he's on now.
"Funny, how it turne' out not be me who neede' the proof.
"It was you.
"Scully. You. Don't. TrusT. Me."
He'd walked out of the room after that. He wasn't sure why he left Scully
standing in the middle of the den with her hand over her mouth. But he
did. He felt hurt, and perhaps a little bitter. He also felt it was
important to leave at that point before he said anything else he might
He walked into the kitchen to grab an iced tea from the fridge. He saw
Walter and Maggie deep in conversation and hadn't wished to disturb them.
But, of course, Walter looked up immediately and asked, "Everything all
Mulder didn't know what to stay. Everything was obviously not all right.
But Mulder didn't want to get into it. So he did what any good FBI agent
would have done.
"We' re fine," Mulder replied. "Good night," and he walked to the bedroom
"Shit," snarled Walter.
"What's wrong, Walter?" asked Maggie. "He said everything was fine."
"And you believed him? C'mon Maggie! He went straight upstairs without
having anything to eat. And where the hell is Dana? Damn it, Maggie,
everything's not fine. Not fine at all, God damn it!" Walter shouted, and
then, as if on cue, Dana walked into the kitchen.
"Sweetheart?" Maggie began, "What's going on? Did you and Fox straighten
"We're working on it, Mom. Did he go_?" she began.
"__Upstairs," Skinner interjected.
"Thank you, Abah," she replied.
When she entered the bedroom, Dana wasn't certain as to what she would
find. In the not so distant past, an argument the magnitude of the one
they'd just had could easily have triggered a grand mal seizure, or even a
Ever since he suffered the permanent brain damage from his illness and
various traumas, Mulder's emotions seemed bound on a tightly woven band
and could be sprung at a moment's notice.
At the very least, Dana figured she would find him laying on the bed with
the remote in hand, surfing the cable channels and sullenly watching
whatever mind numbing piece of drivel appeared in front of him.
So, imagine Scully's surprise when she walked into the bedroom
and found her husband reading a book. She couldn't help but think how
normal he looked.
And she realized that was what the problem was. She'd forgotten how to
look past the disabilities. She'd forgotten what "normal" looked like on
"What are you reading?" she asked.
"Nothing terribly erudi'e, so don' be too impresse'," he said sensing her
surprise to find him as such. "The baby name book."
"Oh. That's nice," she replied lamely.
"Gla' you think so," he said a little sarcastically.
"You walked out on me for the second time this evening. Why?" she asked
"I didn' wan' to hurT you nee'lessly," he said he said carefully.
"But I'd already hurt you, badly, and very needlessly," she replied.
"I'm not out for revenge, Scully. I want to reach an understanding. But
I was angry, and I didn't want to continue the discussion in anger," he
explained slowly and clearly.
"Are you angry now?" she asked seriously.
"Little enough to continue our discussion?" she asked.
"Maybe," he replied softly.
Dana looked at her husband. She wanted to pull him into her arms as a
mother pulled a child into an embrace to provide him with protection from
the world's hurts. She also realized the last thing her thirty-seven year
old husband needed was to be treated like a small child.
"I screwed up big time, didn't I, G-Man?" she asked sincerely.
"Yeah, G-Woman. You did. You really did," he answered in a calm, clearly
"Help me understand, Mulder. Help me understand what the hell I'm doing
wrong," she pleaded.
"Oh, Dana," he replied emotionally, but still composed , "It hurT badly
enough when people looke' at me and saw only my disabilities, but Scully,
tonigh' you looked at me and saw a _liability_. I'm noT a liability,
"I may noT be the perfec' choice to be a father, but I'm the only father
our baby will ha'e. And if there's one thing I've learne', a child neeDs
to know his father, even fathers with imperfections. A child neeDs his
father. You _know_ thaT, Dana.
"An' I know it better than anyone," he added softly but with conviction.
"Yes, you do, Mulder, and I don't doubt you will be a good father. But,
sweetheart, you have to understand I have my _own_ doubts. My _own_
fears. And, yes, they include fears that you won't be able to handle all
there is to take care of a baby.
"But that doesn't mean I doubt her abilities to be a good father. I
don't. I know you will love our child for whom he is, not for what he
should become. I know you will have high expectations for our child, but
will support him in any endeavor he chooses to pursue.
"Mulder, I do not see you as a liability. If I gave you that impression,
I apologize. I truly never intended for you to believe that because___,"
and she paused here for one moment to gather the strength she needed to
make sure he understood, "because Mulder, I could never believe that.
"You are the most important person in my life, Mulder. You know, you are
still my first choice for partner, because I know you will always watch my
"You are my best friend. You listen to me and you understand me like no
other person I know.
"You are my husband, my consort, my lover. You are my life's companion
and I would not trade your being at my side for the next sixty years or so
for anyone else. Do you understand how much I've come to depend upon you
to be there for me?
"Do you understand why I don't just expect to grow old with you, but that
I need to grow old with you?" she implored.
Mulder looked at her blue eyes rimming with tears. They'd yet to
overflow, but any moment he could see them falling in small rivulets down
"I know all of those things, Dana, because I feel them just as strongly.
But Dana, as much as you love me, and I know you love me, you still mus'
come to an understanding with yourself tha' I am alloweD to succeeD. I do
noT haVe to be a needy, little man-child for you to be happy.
"I am an adult, Scully. I am an adult with physical problems, and yeah,
probably a few emotional ones too, but damn it, Dana!" he cried out
passionately, "I deserve to be treateD with respecT and as a capable
person. I've workeD too damneD harD to geT to where I am to deserve any
"I deserve to be trusted," Mulder concluded resolutely.
End of part 4/5
Disclaimers in part 1
The next several weeks flew by for everyone. Walter continued to trek
back and forth to the hospital to attend his physical and occupational
therapy sessions. When Mulder took over as his primary caregiver, he
noticed the improvement in Walter's gait almost immediately. It was
almost as if Walter now had something to prove. Not just to himself, but
Mulder was just ever so slightly jealous of his father-in-law's progress.
While it was apparent Mulder would rely upon the cane forever, Walter
quickly improved enough to not only rid himself of the adapted walker, but
of the four pronged cane as well to walk independently.
Walter became determined to overcome the awkward little sway he developed
in his gait. He felt confident he'd be able to do it, because he knew
Mulder would be nearby acting as both his cheerleader and overseer. When
Walter needed encouragement, Mulder provided him with the much needed
However, when he needed a good kick in the ass to stay on top of his form
and to concentrate, Mulder made sure he gently chided Walter back on the
right path. Mulder was very much aware of how hard Walter worked to gain
back his strength in his right side. He was happy for him. Hell, he was
proud of him.
Mulder was also proud of himself.
When Mulder first began helping Walter out full time, it gave his wife and
family a rare opportunity to see how well Mulder had adapted to his
limitations and accentuated his capabilities.
Mulder had taken the liberty of tending to Walter's physical needs when
it was necessary. Mulder's physical disabilities necessitated some rather
unusual adaptations in order for him to help Walter to the best of his
For example, the metal walker often found its way into the bathtub for
both Walter and Fox to lean upon in order for Mulder to help Walter step
in and step out of the shower.
When Mulder helped Skinner prepare a breakfast or lunch, the two men often
acted in tandem in order to crack and mix the eggs, as well as butter the
toast. Mulder broke out the Velcro several more times to create handles
for a butter knife and spoon, a looped handle for a mixing bowl, as well
as a handle for the shower loofah so Skinner would be better able to
manage his personal hygiene.
And as Mulder worked his ass off as Walter's primary caregiver, Dana
Mulder continued to work out of Quantico until her due date. She felt
more confident her husband was capable of dealing with the stresses of
Walter's care, and knew she had to learn to trust his judgment to decide
when things became too much for him.
There were days when Mulder did indeed feel the stress, and had a petite
mal seizure or two. On those days Maggie stepped in to give Fox the break
he deservedly earned. Since those days were far and few between, Maggie
didn't mind at all. In fact, she enjoyed having the excuse to spoil her
husband on those particular days.
Maggie Skinner became a wife again. No longer the full-time nursemaid,
and certainly not to be confused with her husband's mother, she felt much
more relaxed. Now, Maggie's only consistent stroke related duty was
driving the two men back and forth between the home and the hospital, and
any necessary, and occasionally superfluous, stops at all points in
One such frivolous stop was at the Baby Blocks Furniture Store. Mulder
had insisted they stop there one afternoon after Walter's therapy session.
Maggie couldn't imagine why Mulder felt the sudden urge to go to the baby
store now, since Dana wasn't due for another month. She had errands to
run, so she dropped the two men off at the store and told them she'd be
back in an hour or so.
After they strolled around the store for a few minutes, Walter asked,
"Mind if I ask what the big emergency was? Why this sudden compulsion to
come here today?"
"It wasn't sudden," Mulder replied softly. "It's been going on for about,
oh, let's say about seven and a half months?" Mulder smiled at that.
Dana's belly had become quite round and she looked beautiful, but the
reality of imminent fatherhood was all the more on his mind each time he
looked at Dana's profile.
"I wanted to check out the cribs," Mulder continued seriously. "I wanted
to see what it migh' entail to__." Mulder hesitated at this point and
wondered if he should even bother to continue. It was probably totally
unrealistic of him to even consider it.
Walter, on the other hand, immediately picked up on Mulder's reasons. "Oh
God. You're not really considering it, are you?" Mulder's eyes gazed
back at him, with just a hint of a twinkle to them. "You are, aren't
"Abah," Mulder began, "It's my child. I think it's only fitting I put the
"God, Mulder, I really hoped we could have avoided this particular 'right
"Why?" he asked curiously.
"I remember when I was back in college a friend of mine had to put one of
those things together. He asked me to help, and Mulder, trust me, it was
a nightmare! There are about a hundred and fifty million parts with never
enough of the screws and clamps that are required. It took us hours, and
even after we'd put it together, I prayed it wouldn't collapse as soon as
they put the kid into it."
"Did it collapse?" Mulder asked.
"Nah, but I did," Skinner replied, not entirely in jest.
"I remember," Mulder began, "when Sam was born, and my father ha' to put
the crib together."
"You really remember that?" Walter asked incredulously.
"Yeah. Photographic memory, 'member?" Mulder replied with a smile.
"So how come you could never remember where you put your God damned cell
phone, or gun for that matter, when you filed your expense reports, Mr.
Photographic Memory?" Walter teased.
"I did remember. I just hated to admit I'd dropped the cell phone yet
again and the gun down a sewer," Mulder retorted.
"Oh, so now the truth comes out," Walter replied with a chuckle, "but you
were saying about Sam's crib__?"
"Yeah, well I remember Sammy slep' in a cradle for awhile, so Dad ha'
some time to work on it. I remember, though, the day Mom stood in fron'
of him and said, 'Bill, it's time.' I remember wondering why Dad looked
so sickly pale," Mulder recalled with a smile.
"Dad pulled all of the par's up out of the basemen'. He let me watch, but
he kept telling me, 'Don' touch anything.' Mom kep' comin' in to check on
the progress. She kep' looking at me an' asking me if I was being a goo'
"Dad looked up at my mother and he said, 'Yes.' Oh God, Abah, I remember!
Daddy said, 'Yes!'" Mulder's eyes began to gloss over with tears from
this memory he had of his father.
Walter now understood why it was important for Mulder to put the crib
together himself. It was one of the few positive connections he had to
Bill Mulder, albeit a small one, it was still a very real one in the
younger man's mind.
"C'mon Mulder. Let's go check out these paternal torture chambers,"
Walter said with a smile. "Let's see if we can find one with directions
in English, though. I don't do all that well with French, Spanish,
German, or Japanese, okay?"
Mulder smiled at that last thought and realized his own high school
Spanish teacher would have to agree with Walter on that!
"Thanks, Abah. Thank you for understanding," Mulder replied gratefully.
After some time had passed, Mulder and Walter picked out what they
believed to be the ideal crib. It seemed to be sturdy and safe, while it
was also attractive to the eye. Most importantly, though, was the
highlighted phrase on the front of the box that claimed, "Easy Assembly."
They waited for Maggie to come in to the store to get her opinion, and
when she gave her approval, Mulder marked the number down carefully to
give to Dana.
Trust or no trust, there was no way he would make such a major purchase
without consulting his wife, not if he wanted to live to see the damned
thing put together!
A few weeks later, the bulky package was delivered to the Mulder's
residence a couple of days before Dana's actual due date. Mulder wasn't
sure if he should put the crib together before the baby was actually born,
so he'd asked the store to keep it on hold for him.
But Walter was returning to work shortly and didn't know if he'd have the
time to help Mulder put the darn thing together after the baby was born,
so here it was. The box laid on its side, in all of its challenging,
though supposed, "easy assembly," glory.
Walter and Maggie arrived a short time later. Mulder had opened the box,
and began sorting the pieces. When Walter walked over and saw what laid
before them, he said, "I wasn't so far off with my estimate of a hundred
and fifty million pieces, was I?"
"No, I guess not. Damn, are these people crazy?" Mulder asked.
"Yep. I think this is some kind of test, you know? I mean, you have to
take a test to enter college and a test to get a driver's license. But,"
he paused dramatically, "there's no formal test for parenthood! Except
this one. If you put the damn thing together and it doesn't fall apart
after the first five minutes, you pass. You get to keep the kid, cause
you now have someplace to keep it," he added with a chuckle.
"It? This is your grandchild you're talking about "Sabah!" Mulder
"Sabah?" Walter echoed questioningly.
"Sabah," Mulder repeated quietly. "It's Hebrew for Grandfather. And
'Sahvtah' is Hebrew for Grandmother," he said shyly as he looked over at
"Sabah," Walter said, shaking his in wonder, "I'm gonna be a grandfather."
Maggie came over to give her husband a hug. "And I'm going to be a
grandmother, yet again! A Sahvtah? Is that what it's called, Fox?" He
nodded, and she then said, "And quite frankly, I'm way too young for this
to be happening to me again, don't you think?"
Walter laughed out loud and grasped his wife firmly in his arms. "Come
here, woman. I'll show you how a Sabah treats the Sahvtah in his life!"
He then drew her up into a most passionate kiss.
"Damn," muttered Dana, "if that's what becoming grandparents can do for
"Come here G-Woman. I'll settle for fatherhood and motherhood for the
moment. And if you would recall last night's reenactment of just how we
got into the position of needing this hunk of junk in the first place___,"
he jested while pointing to the crib parts.
"__Okay, G-Man, let's not go there. This is my mother, for crying out
loud!" she joked back.
"Yep, and from the looks of it," Mulder said as he watched Walter and
Maggie prolong their kiss, "you my lovely Dana are a chip off the ol'
block!" With that, Maggie and Walter both burst out laughing.
Mulder then said, "Come here and give me a 'good luck' kiss before I go
and do battle with the enemy," and pointed to the numerous parts on the
floor. Dana went over to her husband and allowed herself to be scooped
into his arms. Their height difference was always an amusement to some
people, but really proved to be an advantage at this late stage in
Mulder was able to easily mold her, beautiful pregnant belly and all, to
his own body and he engaged her in a most loving, sensual kiss as well.
Neither spouse was willing to end it until they'd heard a rather large,
"HARUMPHHH!" They snapped apart with an audible ''pop!''
"Unless you would like to have to order a second one of these
contraptions, I suggest you break this little tryst up and let the men
folk get started," Walter declared with a tone of delight. He loved
seeing his son and daughter-in-law show affection for each other. They'd
forced themselves to hide their love for one another before they were
married, so he got a kick out watching them be so open about it now.
"Very well, if we must, we must. Umm, Walter, did I hear you say 'men
folk?' Tell me I didn't even hear you say that," Dana said giggling.
"He did, dear. He's been in the Clint Eastwood mode ever since he watched
'Unforgiven,' the other evening. Now, let's allow these here cowboys get
to work, or this baby will go directly from the cradle to a bunk bed!"
The women were going to do some last minute baby layette shopping at the
local mall. They figured the last thing the baby needed to hear was the
cursing and damnation that was certain to fly around the room as the "men
folk" did battle with the crib.
Before they left, however, Dana surreptitiously watched her husband and
father-in-law. She was no longer astounded as she observed her husband
take control of this new challenge. Dana found comfort in that Walter,
their Abah, showed no discomfort in allowing Mulder take the lead.
Trust was not an issue. Walter trusted Mulder with his life and
demonstrated it in everyday, ordinary ways, such as constructing a crib
Scully had always trusted Mulder with her life. She still did. She
couldn't imagine never feeling trust in this man. This man. That was
what Scully always needed to remind herself. Mulder was a capable,
This man, no longer a child himself, was getting ready for the arrival of
his own child. A child that would reflect all of the goals and dreams
he'd always hoped for himself.
She watched as Mulder beamed with pride when Walter manipulated the small
screws and bolds with relative ease. It was only a few short months ago
Walter was barely able to grasp the walker with his weakened right hand,
yet now he was able to handle the small hardware with relative ease.
Dana also noted the occasional serious look that clouded Mulder's eyes as
she watched him mourn just a little bit for the "Mulder of Before," the
one who could have done anything from manipulating a screwdriver to
outrunning Walter Skinner on any given day.
Scully mourned a little bit too, of course, as it was only natural for her
to feel the same small sense of loss. However, Mulder progressed so much
since those first days when he'd fallen ill, and the differences between
now and then were nothing short of miraculous.
And Scully nearly missed it. She nearly allowed herself to shut herself
off from the incredible strides her husband had made, not just in his
improved physical skills, but in his emotional growth as well. It seemed
Mulder turned from a needy child into a man over night.
The irony of it was it had been happening all along, only she hadn't
realized it. Scully just needed to open her mind up to extreme
"Damn it Mulder, this can't be the piece!" she heard Walter complain
"Look, Walter, it is. See how it fits in here?" Fox explained patiently.
"Oh. Right. I knew that," Walter agreed sheepishly.
"I knew you did, Abah," Fox replied wisely.
As she watched the two men at work on the crib, Scully imagined seeing an
older and even wiser Mulder working in a similar scenario in the years to
come. It was then all doubt left her.
Fox Mulder was going to make one helluva father.
End of Part 5/5
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